This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three American scientists for their research on the biological clock in plants, animals and humans.
A few years ago, in 1970, some scientists questioned whether the gene that controlled the circadian rhythm of fruit flies might or might not be identified by calling this gene “period”, and in 1984 researchers were able to detect the gene in question.
Scientists later found that the gene encodes a protein known as PER that forms around the cell at night, and degrades during the course of the day, functioning as a kind of clock. Young then discovered two other genes with important functions for the process. The first, nicknamed timeless, helps to stop the activity of the period gene, and the second gene controls how many times the cycle repeats.
The activity of plants, animals and humans are based on the relationship with the Sun, and all living beings react to the sun, the circadian clock, is part of the way of working our mechanism, metabolism.
The circadian rhythm can affect our mood, irritability, sleep patterns, body temperature and metabolism, and thanks to the work of Hall, Rosbash and Young, it has been possible for other scientists to explore more deeply their influence in the different essential nuclei of life.
Recently, a group of researchers managed to find a way to erase a gene that controlled the circadian rhythm in rats, and mice to act as if time had slowed. Other scientists have found that infections and cures are highly affected by the circadian rhythm, and there are even studies linking circadian rhythm disturbance to obesity and cancer.
One thing is certain, we owe a lot to these three scientists and the delivery of this prize to them, is more than deserved.